4th Lakes International Comic Art Festival

24hr-comic-in-progress

24-hour comic in progess. “Shh. They’re concentrating”

comicartcoeliferatlasBryan was one of the artists lined up to work on this year’s 24 Hour Comic Marathon project, set to begin at 3pm on Thursday 13th. So our festival experience started early. This year a single story had been written by Alex Paknadel and Dan Watters and 12 artists had each been assigned two pages to illustrate. The resulting Coelifer Atlas was printed and launched the same weekend, proceeds going to the charity OCD Action. You can find details and availability both from Lakes International Comic Art Festival Books and from Page 45.

On Thursday evening we were present for the finnish-exhibitionwelcoming dinner for invited festival guests. It began with an informal reception in Kendal College’s newly reopened Wildman Gallery. The gallery is currently exhibiting Silence/Hiljaisuus, an exhibition of original graphic novel art by Hanneriina Moisseinen from Finland.

The exhibition opened on 12th October and runs until 12th November. It’s well worth a look if you’re in Kendal. There are details of this and the other festival exhibitions here. One I was really sorry to miss while I was in Kendal was the exhibition of Five Bridges: Stories of the Flood, put together by Mike Medaglia, LIsa Woynarkski and Farokh Soltani. It features five different stories of people who endured the severe flooding in Kendal in December 2015, when the River Kent breached its banks, inundating the town and closing its five bridges. The exhibition is in the Kendal Museum and runs until 19th November.
at-masons-arms
badratOn Friday we had the pleasure of taking Bryan Lee O’Malley and his partner Mary to lunch. It was their first time in the UK and we were keen to introduce them to some of our beautiful countryside. So, with that and a little comics tourism in mind, we drove over to the Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank – a location in Bryan’s classic Tale of One Bad Rat.

The first ticketed event was Asterix vs Tintin: Clash of the Toon Titans on Friday evening. Team Tintin and the Asterixers engaged in entertainingly spirited (verging on downright scurrilous) debate, with that Hannah Berry ably presiding over the proceedings. Then the audience voted. And Asterix won. By one vote. One. I demand a recount!

The event was supported by Lancaster University and their new Visiting Professor in Graphic Fiction and Comic Art, Benoit Peeters, was leading the pro-Tintin team. It was great to hear about the university’s commitment to the festival from Professor Simon Guy, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Lancaster University, especially as I’m an alumna of the University myself. (For those who are interested in this sort of thing, I did the first ever PhD on Critical Discourse Analysis, the practical element of which focused on the now defunct girls’ comic/magazine, Jackie.)
asterix-vs-tintinasterix-vs-tintin-2The same evening, Dave Gibbons handed over the position of Comics Laureate to his successor, Charlie Adlard. This is the second biennial appointment of a distinguished comics creator in recognition of their outstanding achievement in the medium. The new UK Comics Laureate will take over in February 2017.

I’m delighted and deeply honoured to be appointed as the Comics Laureate. The power of comics to encourage learning and develop literacy shouldn’t be underestimated. Comics can connect with people who may never pick up a normal book and really help encourage a love of reading. I see this as a great opportunity to bring the wonder of comics to a wider audience.

Charlie Adlard

laureate-speechOn Saturday evening we were invited by the wonderful Corinne Pearlman of Myriad Editions to join them in the Warehouse Café to celebrate the 2012 and 2014 winners and successes of their First Graphic Novel Competition. Andy Oliver, Broken Frontier editor-in-chief and one of the 2014 judges, enthuses here about the competition and the superb opportunity it offers. With enthusiastic help from past entrants, winners and judges, he expains why the competition is so important to the whole comics community and to the health of publishing itself. At the same event Julie Tait, our awesome festival organiser, announced the winners of the Beatrix Potter Reimagined Competition. The standard was amazing.potter-winner

There was so much going on at the festival, that I managed to attend a fraction of what I would have liked to see. For instance, I missed Dave McKean’s Black Dog event again, as it clashed with my own slot on Red Virgin on the Sunday. Back in May I missed the Black Dog launch in Kendal, as it coincided with Wonderlands in Sunderland.

We got widespread media coverage, including BBC Arts. Here are reports on this year’s festival from the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, with announcements for 2017, from Page 45 and Comics Work Book. I didn’t take any photos in the Comics Clock Tower this year, but I did browse the tables a couple of times and bought a card or two from one Eleanor Hollindrake. Nice cards, Eleanor!

Charlie Adlard,Joe Kelly, Ken Nimura, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Luke McGarry, Emma Vieceli, Lynette Adlard, Steve McGarry

Left to right: Charlie Adlard,Joe Kelly, Ken Nimura, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Luke McGarry, Emma Vieceli, Lynette Adlard, Steve McGarry

Gilbert Shelton, Kate Charlesworth, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Yomi Ayemi

Gilbert Shelton, Kate Charlesworth, Bryan Talbot, Mary Talbot, Yomi Ayemi

Last chat with Gilbert in the hotel

Last chat with Gilbert in the hotel

Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy in Kendal Museum

BryanOn Tuesday we went to the launch of an exhibition at the museum in Kendal, Cumbria. Beatrix Potter’s Inspiring Legacy exhibition marks the 150th anniversary of her birth. Rather than focusing on her illustrated children’s books, which are known worldwide, it highlights her lesser-known scientific legacy and her influence on artists today.

Mycologist
Bryan has loaned the museum original artwork from The Tale of One Bad Rat, inspired by Potter’s books. Seven contemporary local artists are also featured.

Bryan’s pages are displayed next to Beatrix Potter’s work. He’s delighted to be in such good company!
artwork
The exhibition also displays some of Potter’s personal collection of paintings by artists she admired, including Randolph Caldicott, on loan from Kendal Town Council.
Mary
Afterwards we caught up on developments for this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival over dinner with Julie Tate, festival organiser, and fellow patron, Sean Phillips. Tickets on sale soon!

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October 2015

Clocktower2Last year we did six festivals altogether in October so, when the month rolled around again, just doing two seemed quite laid back by comparison. The 3rd Lakes International Comic Art Festival was a resounding success, with a record 13,900 visitors over the weekend and overwhelmingly positive feedback. Down the Tubes has a range of coverage, including John Freeman’s initial report, Jeremy Briggs on Creators at LICAF2015, Norman Boyd’s First Impressions: A Beginner’s Guide and the Announcement of 2015 Windows Art Winners. I’ve also come across a three-part account by one Leonard Sultana, who seems to have tried his utmost to get to everything: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. See also Jean Rogers’ reflections.

Next year’s festival organisation is already underway and dates have been announced as 14th-16th October 2016. There’s a fundraising auction which will take place live and online from Orbital Comics in London on 24th November 2015. The auction features work donated by Charlie Adlard, Steve Bell, Ian Churchill, Darwyn Cooke, Hunt Emerson, Dave Gibbons, Jamie Hewlett, Stuart Immonen, Sean Phillips, Posy Simmonds, Jeff Smith and Bryan Talbot.

For me, as for the international guests, this year’s festival began with the official welcome event on Thursday evening. This year it took place in the basement of Kendal Museum, where Sean Phillips’ PhonoGraphics exhibition was on display. We were treated to a dinner created by catering students at Kendal College and festival wine and beer were served.
SeanPhillips&wine
Look, Sean drank it all! Notice the wine labels, designed by Sean and Bryan.

Mason'sArmsOn Friday morning, while the 24-hour comic people were adding finishing touches to their work, we took off for lunch in a picturesque Cumbrian setting with Canadian guests, Darwyn and Marsha Cooke. The pub behind us is the Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank, which appears in Bryan’s Tale of One Bad Rat (as the Herdwick Arms). Thanks to Marsha for the photo.

For me the festival proper began with Steve Bell’s talk. To a packed audience, Steve charted the development of If, his political cartoon strip in the Guardian. He finished with the current predicament of Jez-Bi-Wan Corbyn, who had just been put in a sticky situation by Darth Mandelson.
Steve Bell If
RV postcardNext in my schedule was my own talk the following morning, to a good audience in the formal setting of Council Chamber. I finally got to announce my latest collaboration with Bryan, our forthcoming graphic novel, The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia, out next May. This book deals with the astounding, larger-than-life feminist revolutionary, Louise Michel, her part in the Paris Commune of 1871 and more. And it looks stunning. Thanks to Mel Gibson for her excellent hosting of the event, as ever.

My afternoon appearance for a round of darts with Knockabout in the Elephant Yard emporium, now I freely admit that was a little less successful. I was just beginning to get the hang of throwing those darts by the end, though…

red_shoes_metaphrog_papercutz_cover-628x670In the afternoon I was back in the Council Chamber, but this time it was for John and Sandra of Metaphrog’s  introduction of their new book, The Red Shoes and other tales. This collection includes a beautiful but dark retelling of Hans Andersen’s Red Shoes.

KarrieFransmanbyMichiMathiasOn Sunday morning I was in the Council Chamber yet again, where this time I had the Death_of_the_Artist_front_coverpleasure of hosting Karrie Fransman’s talk. Karrie was taking us through her work, with particular attention to her latest graphic novel, The Death of the Artist, as well as talking more generally about comics and experimentation. Sketch of Karrie with her busy hands, tweeted later by @MichiMathias!

arkwright-integral-coverAlso on Sunday, I went to hear Bryan in conversation about his Adventures of Luther Arkwright and influences with Peter Kessler. Yes yes, I’ve heard it all before, but this time it was with clips, which made it all rather interesting! Then later we both enjoyed listening to Benoit Peeters talking through his surreal bande-dessinée work with Paul Gravett.
BenoitPeeters&PaulGravett
Bryan&YomiThere was the social side too, of course. So many lovely people. We had the pleasure of getting to know Yomi Ayeni of Clockwork Watch, for instance, who’d ventured up to Kendal from London.

Just before the Comics Clocktower closed (and transformed back into Kendal Town Hall) Bryan went around snapping photos. Here’s a few.

Me with Stephen Holland of Page 45

Me with Stephen Holland of Page 45

Roger Langridge and Antony Johnston

Roger Langridge and Antony Johnston

Ben Read, Sara Dunkerton and Matt Gibbs

Ben Read, Sara Dunkerton and Matt Gibbs

Terry Wiley

Terry Wiley

Yomi at the Clockwork Watch table

Yomi at the Clockwork Watch table

Sydney Jordan

Sydney Jordan

Gary Erskine

Gary Erskine

 

September update

outsideCartmelFellSeptember draws to a sunny and fruitful close. At least, it does here in Sunderland. So I guess it’s time for another update. At the beginning of the month we enjoyed a five-day break in Hawkshead in the Lake District. Alwyn came over from Manchester for a hugely welcome overnight visit. We really don’t see him often enough these days, so it was lovely having him stay. Before taking him to the Mason’s Arms for lunch, we called at Cartmel Fell church close by.
Bryan&Alwyn in CartmelFell
Alwyn&Mary at CartmelFell2
Alwyn&Mary at MasonsArms
Both locations may be recognisable from The Tale of One Bad Rat. In the graveyard, Bryan and Alwyn were, as ever, using their cameras to collect textures.
Alwyn in graveyard 2
One shot that Bryan took inspired Alwyn to create this evocative tribute to his deeply missed friend Yo:
OldFriend
The following weekend we had a short trip to St Peter Port, Guernsey’s capital, for a book festival talk and exhibition opening (that I’ve mentioned already here).
Bryan in St Peter Port
Castle Cornet
Mary in St Peter Port
We spent a day there sightseeing, taking in Victor Hugo’s very quirky and interesting house. Here’s Bryan in his garden and me in his workplace up in the garret:
Bryan in Hugo's garden
Mary in Hugo's workplace
comicartSo, what’s in store for October? Well, we’re gearing up for the 3rd Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. I’ve posted about our contributions already here. Bryan’s ‘How I create a graphic novel’ session is now fully booked, but tickets are still available for the other events. I can’t wait to tell all about the next book! I’ll also have the apples 2pleasure of hosting Karrie Fransman’s event on Sunday morning. Finally, at the end of next month we’re doing a talk on Sally Heathcote Suffragette at Sunderland’s City library as part of the Sunderland Literature Festival. It’s on Halloween but, as it’s at lunchtime, we won’t be finishing off with apple-bobbing.

A Vision of Utopia at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival

Tickets are now on sale for LICAF 2015, so if you’re planning to attend it’s time to start browsing the website. I’ll be presenting my next graphic novel, due out next year. I’ve been keeping quiet about it up to now, but Bryan is busily working on it, in fact he’s working on page 94 right now…

But what is it about, you ask? Well, it’s a biography of a powerful, larger-than-life female historical figure, it’ll have 118 pages of artwork plus endnotes. As Bryan’s said, “She’s such an astounding character, we don’t want anyone else quickly researching on her and knocking out a graphic novel before ours!”

Come and find out about it in Kendalpage 64 top:

Saturday 17th October 10-11am
A Vision of Utopia – Mary Talbot
Chaired by Dr Mel
Comic Clock Tower
Tickets £8

Bryan will also be making these two appearances:

arkwright-integral-coverSaturday 17th 1-3pm
How I make a Graphic Novel (Workshop) – Bryan Talbot
Brewery Arts Centre: Art Room 2
Tickets £15

Sunday 18th 12-1pm
Arkwright: Where British Graphic Novels Began – Bryan Talbot
Chaired by Peter Kessler
Brewery Arts Centre: Screen Two
Tickets £8

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October update: a month of festivals

“This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!” How I love hearing that!

We’ve been on the move with Sally Heathcote again, starting with Charleston in CharlestonEast Sussex in late September. And, yes, we seem to be making converts as we go. At book signings following our literary festival talks, some people are sure to say: “This is the first graphic novel I’ve ever bought!”

Our Charleston Small Wonder Festival appearance was in an old barn fitted out as a performance space, in the grounds of the Bloomsbury Group’s farmhouse and garden. The house became home to the artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant in 1916.

Palace GreenKate joined us for a Durham Book Festival event, which was in the Palace Green library close by the castle and cathedral. In the morning I’d been in the equally imposing Durham Town Hall, conducting an interview with Laura Bates on her Everyday Sexism project and book.

DurhamTownHall

 

DurhamTownHall2DurhamTownHallLauraBates

ManorHouseAfter that Bryan and I zoomed off to Ilkley for another literary festival. Continuing the architectural theme, Bryan did his graphic-novel masterclass in a lovely old stone place adjacent to the Manor House, a fine Tudor building. Later in the day, we both took to the stage to talk about Sally Heathcote, 

IlkleyPlayHouseSuffragette – and make some more converts – in the Ilkley Playhouse. Someone in the audience (one Jane Aitchison) tweeted enthusiastically about a scene in the book that’s set close by, on Woodhouse Moor. There are some great reviews on the Pickled Egg blog/online magazine. Just look what Jess Haigh and JY Saville have to say about the event.

More new graphic novel readers!

A few days later, we were off to the Cumbrian market town of Kendal for the 2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Julie Tait and her team excelled themselves.  As one reviewer remarked, “this year everything seemed to be ‘more'”. Here’s a sample of reviews: Jeremy Briggs, James Bacon, Lew Stringer, Stephen Holland (Warning: endearing effusiveness in a very long post!) Infectious enthusiasm all round. And badgers.

KnittedLB

 

Bryan and I each hosted an event. I facilitated Audrey Niffenegger’s presentation of artwork in the Brewery Arts Centre Warehouse Café. Bryan did a career interview with Dez Skinn in Screen 1. Kate and I joined Bryan in his own career interview, where I do believe there was a badger in the audience!

IMG_0730

 

Brewery Arts Centre

Brewery Arts Centre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, yes, more picturesque stone buildings were involved.

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

Comics Clock Tower (aka Kendal Town Hall)

It was a lovely weekend – for us it included a chance to catch up with Jeff and Vijaya Smith, who we hadn’t seen in years. While they were visiting the Lake District, it was a pleasure to take them to some locations from The Tale of One Bad Rat, such as this one: Cartmel Fell Church.

outsideCartmelFell

 

 

 

 

 

 

insideCartmelFell

 

 

 

 

 

 

Town Halls have been a bit of a theme recently. A few days after the Lakes we were in Cheshire with Kate for another literary festival. The imposing red sandstone Chester Town Hall was the venue for our event. It was chaired by Mark Lawson, who Bryan and I ‘met’ on Radio 4’s Front Row when Dotter was shortlisted for a Costa Award.

ChesterTownHall

 

 

 

 

 

insideChesterTownHall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The three of us rounded off the month with a trip to Dundee for the Scottish Book Trust Comics Lab and Dundee Literature Festival, both of which took place at the university. While we were there, Bryan and I saw Woodrow Phoenix’s presentation of his big book, She Lives, which we’d missed in Kendal.WoodrowBigBook

DundeeComicsLab Woodrow'sSheLives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next stop: Jonathan Cape’s Comic Creations evening, part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas on 14th November. Bryan and I will be appearing with Isabel Greenberg, Fumio Obata, Nick Hayes and Steve Bell. Maybe see you there?

 

Another month of festivals coming up…

The festival season is upon us once more. It’s starting with the Small Wonder Festival in Charleston this coming weekend:

smallwonder-festival-header14Sunday 28th September
4pm Suffragette. An illustrated talk by Mary and Bryan Talbot
Chaired by Corinne Pearlman
Small Wonder Festival
Charleston, East Sussex BN8 6LL. Tickets available here

It’s near Brighton, so we’re looking forward to catching up with Hannah Berry while we’re in her neighbourhood. Sure to be fun!

Then in October we’re doing a string of events, some of them with Kate Charlesworth:

Durham Book Festival logoSaturday 11th October
1.30pm Bryan and Mary Talbot and Kate Charlesworth: Sally Heathcote, Suffragette
Chaired by David Herman
Palace Green Library
Durham Book Festival
Tickets available here

Also on that day, I’ll be appearing in conversation with Laura Bates:

10.30am Laura Bates: Everyday Sexism
Chaired by Mary Talbot
Durham Town Hall. Tickets here

Ilkley Lit Fest logoAfter that, Bryan and I will wend our way over to Ilkley:

Sunday 12th October 2014
1.45pm Bryan Talbot workshop: How I create a graphic novel
Manor House Museum: Education Room

4.30pm Bryan and Mary Talbot discuss their stunning new graphic novel, Sally Heathcote, Suffragette.
Ilkley Playhouse – Wildman. Ilkley Literary Festival. Tickets here

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 17.44.04Then, guess what? Kendal Comic Art Fest is back!

17-19th October 2014
2nd Lakes International Comic Art Festival
Kendal
Book all events here

These vibrant limited edition prints are available for pre-order at the Lakes Fest now

These vibrant limited edition prints are available for pre-order at the Lakes Fest now

Saturday 18 October, 18.30 – 19.30, Brewery Arts Centre Warehouse Café
Meet the Creators: Audrey Niffenegger (hosted by Mary Talbot)

Sunday 19 October, 14.30 – 15.30, Brewery Arts Centre 1
Brainstorm: The Art of Bryan Talbot (hosted by Mel Gibson)
Kate and I will join in towards the end of this discussion.

Thursday 23rd October 2014
7.30pm Mary and Bryan Talbot and Kate Charlesworth
Chester Literature Festival
Chester Town Hall
Chaired by Mark Lawson
Book here

Finally, we’ll be rounding off the month with a trip to Dundee. Applications now closed for this one, though:

25th October 2014
Comics Lab 2014
Dundee

Phew.mary-talbot.jpg Sally Page 53 bottom

Helen Barnrat on Tumblr: a tribute to The Tale of One Bad Rat

Badrat awakesA student in Ontario has just created a Tumblr page about Helen Barnrat. That’s the character from Bryan’s Tale of One Bad Rat who features in the Beatrix Potter pastiche at the end. The page is available to view here. Laura Stortz, the Canadian student, says she was ‘deeply moved’ by Bad Rat and ‘decided to choose and review the graphic novel as a part of my course’.

IBadRat atHillTopt’s now twenty years since the book first came out, so it’s wonderful that it still retains its appeal and people continue to discover it. A new generation of people, indeed. Crikey!

It’s my favourite graphic novel of all time (at least, it was until Alice in Sunderland came along – now I’m conflicted). Of course, being partly set in the Lake District, it featured prominently in Bryan’s Brainstorm! exhibition in Kendal that formed part of the inaugural Lakes International Comic Art Festival last year. Remember this poster?

ExhibitionPoster

 

And here are some gratuitous shots of my February front garden. An abundance of snowdrops and hellebore:

snowdrops

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My Best of Year choices for 2013

FPI have been running a December best-of-year series on their blog for some years now. This time around, they had so many submissions that it’s running over into January! Contributors are asked to pick three favourites from comics/graphic novels, books, television and film and say a little about them. They’re also invited to reflect on the past year more personally and to look to the creative year ahead. Take a look at my contribution, posted here today.
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